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Partners in Learning

The Great Courses has teamed up with The Smithsonian – the world’s largest museum and research complex – to create unique and fascinating educational experiences. Combining the legendary collections of The Smithsonian with the powerful and comprehensive approach of The Great Courses, this partnership will bring you a new kind of engaging learning experience.

With new courses already under production, and many more being considered for development, The Great Courses and The Smithsonian are working quickly to fulfill the promise this partnership holds for all our lifelong learning customers. Up first are three courses – including one by acclaimed Smithsonian Scholar Richard Kurin – that are guaranteed to excite you.

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Courses now available

America's Founding Fathers

In collaboration with Smithsonian, the Great Courses presents America's Founding Fathers, a deep dive into the creation of the U.S. Constitution as it actually happened. Using the Founding Fathers as a lens through which to see powerful truths about the early political history of the United States, you'll better understand both the document under which Americans live and the people who, for better or worse, brought it into being.

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Introduction to Paleontology

Introduction to Paleontology

Stuart Sutherland

Introduction to Paleontology is a thrilling journey through Earth's history—from a lifeless planet to initial bursts of life, from extinctions to recovery, and ultimately to our world today. Relying considerably on the National Museum of Natural History's curatorial expertise and extensive collections and taught by award-winning Professor Stuart Sutherland, this course reveals how paleontology helps us better understand the extraordinary history of life on our constantly changing planet.

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Native Peoples

The Great Courses has partnered with Smithsonian to bring you a course that will greatly expand your understanding of American history. This course pairs the unmatched resources and expertise of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian with the unparalleled knowledge of Professor Daniel M. Cobb of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to provide a multidisciplinary view of American history, revealing new perspectives on the historical and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples, and their significant impact on the history of our country.

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Experiencing Italy

Italy is the quintessential location for anyone interested in art, culture, and history. In collaboration with the Smithsonian, we bring you the exceptional gems and daily life of Italy’s past and present in a visually stunning tour. Explore Rome, Florence, and Venice—and take side trips to Pompeii, Perugia, and more. Visit important monuments, witness artistic masterpieces, and immerse yourself in Italian culture.

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Experiencing Japan

Japan’s extraordinary 2,000-year-old civilization has grown through periods of engagement and isolation into a society responsible for immeasurable influences on the rest of the world. Discover what makes Japan so distinctive in Understanding Japan: A Cultural History . These 24 fascinating lectures offer an unforgettable tour of Japanese history, life, art, and culture.

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Experiencing America

Take a unique and compelling approach to studying American History in this course that examines some of our nation’s most important and symbolic artifacts, from Abraham Lincoln’s iconic hat to Dorothy’s ruby slippers. With famed anthropologist and Smithsonian scholar Richard Kurin as your guide – and based off his brilliant bestselling book The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects – this course explores the Smithsonian’s vast collection of American Memorabilia and offers a unique and truly fascinating visual history of your country.

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The Industrial Revolution

Patrick N. Allit

Examine how a series of brilliant inventors and new scientific discoveries permanently altered the fate of mankind in this fascinating and comprehensive course. Taught by award-winning Professor of American History Patrick N. Allitt and featuring the Smithsonian’s unrivaled collection of Industrial Era artifacts you’re sure to enjoy this riveting story that explores the unfolding of the Industrial Revolution and its impact on world history.

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A Visual Guide to the Universe

Explore the Universe like never before in this visually splendorous course that examines the best images ever produced by instruments such as the Hubble Telescope, the Mars Rover, and many more. Taught by award-winning Professor of Physics and Astronomy David M. Meyer and featuring insider access to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, this course will give you both a thorough understanding of all the fascinating and exotic objects our Universe contains, as well as a spectacular visual tour showcasing the finest astronomical images ever created.

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Professors

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    Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Among garnering other honors, he has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He is a member of the National Council on the Humanities. Professor Guelzo is the author of numerous books on American intellectual history, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War era. His publication awards include the Lincoln Prize as well as the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize for two of his books-Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America–making him the first double Lincoln laureate in the history of both prizes. His critically acclaimed book, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. Professor Guelzo has written for The American Historical Review, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, C-SPAN's Booknotes, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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    Dr. Kenneth R. Bartlett is Professor of History and Renaissance Studies at the University of Toronto, where he earned his Ph.D. and has taught for the past 30 years. A distinguished teacher, Professor Bartlett has received numerous teaching awards and honors. These include the 3M Teaching Fellowship-awarded by the Canadian Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education-and the inaugural President's Teaching Award from the University of Toronto. He also received the Victoria University Excellence in Teaching Award, the Students' Administration Council/American Public University System Teaching Award, and the Faculty of Arts and Science Outstanding Teacher Award.

    Professor Bartlett was also a finalist in TV Ontario's Best Lecturer Competition, in which students' favorite instructors competed against one another in lecturing charisma, clarity, passion, and conviction. An expert in European culture, Professor Bartlett is the author of The English in Italy, 1525-1558: A Study in Culture and Politics and The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance, and the coauthor of Humanism and the Northern Renaissance. He is also the coeditor or translator of four other books and the author of more than 35 articles and book chapters on European history and culture.

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    Dr. Mark J. Ravina is Professor of History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1991. He received his A.B. from Columbia University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He has been a visiting professor at Kyoto University’s Institute for Research in Humanities and a research fellow at Keio University and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies. He has also received research grants from the Fulbright Program, the Japan Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the Association for Asian Studies.

    Professor Ravina has published extensively in early modern Japanese history, with a particular focus on the transnational and international aspects of political change. He has also published research on Japanese and Korean popular culture, Japanese economic thought, and the history of science. As a public intellectual, he has appeared on CNN, CNN International, NPR, and The History Channel.

    A former director of the East Asian Studies Program at Emory University, Professor Ravina has also served as president of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies. In addition, he is on the editorial board of The Journal of Asian Studies. Professor Ravina’s books include The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori and Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan.

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    Dr. Richard Kurin serves as the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. He oversees most Smithsonian national museums and educational programs, including the American History, American Indian, American Art, and African American History and Culture museums and the National Portrait Gallery. He earned his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago and taught at The Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

    For two decades, Dr. Kurin directed the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, which produced major events on the National Mall, Smithsonian Folkways recordings, and other products that earned Academy, Emmy, and Grammy awards. His scholarship and museological work have been recognized by the International Council of Museums, UNESCO, and Harvard’s Peabody Museum. Awarded the Smithsonian Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, he serves as the Smithsonian’s liaison to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the White House Historical Association, and numerous other boards.

    Dr. Kurin is the author of several books, including Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem; Reflections of A Culture Broker; Saving Haiti’s Heritage; and Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Culture Of, By, and For the People. His latest book, The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, provides the basis for Experiencing America.

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    Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is the Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt—an Oxford University graduate—also taught American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow.

    He was director of Emory College's Center for Teaching and Curriculum from 2004 to 2009, where he looked for ways to improve teaching. In this critical administrative position, he led workshops on a wide variety of teaching-related problems, visited dozens of other professors' classes, and provided one-on-one consultation to teachers to help them overcome particular pedagogical problems. Professor Allitt was honored with Emory's Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2000 was appointed to the N.E.H./Arthur Blank Professorship of Teaching in the Humanities.

    A widely published and award-winning author, Professor Allitt has written several books, including The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History; Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950–1985; Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome; and Religion in America since 1945: A History. He is also author of I'm the Teacher, You're the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom, a memoir about one semester in his life as a university professor.

    In addition, he is the editor of Major Problems in American Religious History. He has written numerous articles and reviews for academic and popular journals, including The New York Times Book Review.

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    Dr. David M. Meyer is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University, where he is also Director of the Dearborn Observatory and Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. He earned his B.S. in Astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles. He continued his studies as a Robert R. McCormick Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago's Enrico Fermi Institute before joining the Northwestern faculty.

    During his career at Northwestern, Professor Meyer has specialized in designing and teaching introductory undergraduate courses in astronomy, cosmology, and astrobiology for nonscience majors. Professor Meyer won Northwestern’s highest teaching award—the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence. His other honors include the Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professorship, the Weinberg Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Northwestern Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award.

    Professor Meyer's research focuses on the spectroscopic study of interstellar and extragalactic gas clouds—work carried out with a variety of ground- and space-based observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope. Professor Meyer and his collaborators have been awarded more than $2 million in NASA research funding to carry out space observations that have resulted in 32 peer-reviewed publications.

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